via Economic downturn fuels passport demand | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda January 8, 2014
The emerging economic crisis in the country since last year’s elections is fuelling demand for passports, an indication that more Zimbabweans might be preparing to seek refuge outside the country.
Lionel Saungweme, SW Radio Africa’s correspondent in Bulawayo said that since the beginning of the year, the Registrar General’s offices have been besieged with people applying for new passports and Emergency Travel Documents.
“Others are trying to renew their expired passports and it’s a struggle to get service at the registrar’s office because it’s always packed with people queuing for the same service,” he said.
An ordinary Zimbabwean passport costs US$50 while other regional countries charge less than US$30 for the same document. But faced with heavy demand, the Passport Office has assigned priority to those willing to pay US$253 dollars to obtain an emergency passport in three days, or even US$318 for one-day service.
“Even with the exorbitant charges people are flocking to the passport offices and the officials are failing to cope with the sheer numbers,” Saungweme added.
The correspondent said it appears the failing economy seems to be sending thousands packing to neighbouring countries. Although the economic and political situation had improved marginally during the period of the inclusive government, things have not been the same since ZANU PF ‘won’ the elections that were disputed by the opposition parties.
While analysts agree that few people are fleeing political repression, many others are contemplating escaping the affects of the failing economy and poor service delivery.